Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Indy Pics by Linda Shantz

 Not totally wordless - but guys Linda is a totally amazing artist and photographer. Not to get into too much back story here, but she is the lady I got Valley and Ronnie from.  She also raised my old horse Parker as a baby.  She is currently having a contest on her blog to win a portrait of your horse - check it out if you can!  You will want to win this!

  These are the pics she took of Indy at Glen Oro.  Thanks so much Linda - they are stunning!

come on PSofSweden - hire Indy to model!


watching the riders before us on xc

giving Indy my pep talk

soooo muscles???

the most handsomest man

love this one!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dressage Clinic #2 with Valley

acting all grown up

  Last Sunday I took Valley to another dressage clinic at my friend Katies house with dressage rider and trainer Bri Johnson.  This was our second clinic with Bri and Valleys third time off property.  Like the good girl she is, she loaded right onto the trailer that morning.  She does love to call, so she neighed a bit at first but quieted down on the road.  We traveled alone this time and she traveled well.

  Upon arrival, I unloaded her and tied to her to trailer with a hay net and some water.  We hung out for a bit and just relaxed.  I gave her a nice grooming and she enjoyed looking around at all the horses in various fields at Katies place.  She was very content and well behaved at the trailer.  Her temperament is pretty hard to beat.  She is very green but so enjoyable to be around, she makes things pretty stress free.

I just love her face :)

  I walked her around on a long rein for about 15-20 minutes before my lesson for warm up.  She went into the ring and relaxed right away stretching down and marching around while the horse before us was finishing up.  She was well behaved around the horse and only called a few times when she finished up and left the ring.

  We started working and focused on changing her frame and having her yield away from my leg.  The idea is for her to be able to carry herself in three frames, a long and low, medium, and then a working frame.  Of course at this moment in our training they are not going to be perfect, but as we continue to work they will become stronger and more correct.  Moving the frame throughout the ride, and throughout each exercise  prevents her from getting a stiff and set neck, like you see so many Thoroughbreds have in dressage.  It keeps the neck supple and loose, and prevents tension and also improves rideability.

 This goes right along with how my regular dressage coach has me ride, she always says the horse should be able to go into any frame you ask it to, and have the same connection throughout all these frames.  You do not let the horse stretch unless the horse takes the rein and maintains the connection, otherwise all connection is just lost.  Of course you can also work to teach the horse to loose the connection and maintain suppleness when you recollect, but that is another thing altogether.

 From the start Bri commented that her rhythm had improved from our last lesson.  She has a very good steady tempo, and maintains this even when she calls.  It allows me to work on more advanced things like her change of frame on a relatively green horse. We incorporated this into many things, circles, serpentine, transitions, and down the long and short sides.  I could feel Valley becoming more supple already and her trot really felt quite nice.

  We also worked on pushing her around my inside leg, moving her body around and having her move off the leg.  There was definite improvement here too but it still needs more work and is something I will start to do more of at home.  We didn't do any canter work as I haven't been cantering her much at home. The ground is hard and slippery and she is barefoot so I just don't see the point at the moment when she can't balance herself without me worrying about her slipping.  If we ever get some rain I can start upping her work into more demanding canter work.

 Overall the lesson wasn't too complex, but it was focused on a few very useful exercises that showed a change in Valley from the start to finish.  This is something I am going to incorporate into my rides with all my horses, I think Penny could especially benefit from it.  I really enjoy working with Bri, she always has a new tool for me to try that brings results.  I recommend trying a clinic or lesson with her if you get the chance.

  It was really quite hot that day so Valley got a nice bath after our lesson.  She even stood tied to the trailer while I hosed her head to toe.  She really is quite the little - er- not so little horse.  I'm really looking forward to whats ahead for us.

filling out like crazy!
  Have you learned any new tools that have helped you lately?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Like an Old Mitt - Miss Pen Goes XC Schooling

 The end of the season nears, and I've been working diligently on dressage with Penny. Things have been going amazingly.  Her new bit does seem to be the final piece we were missing.  I decided a few weeks back to start jumping her again.  Now that she is more rideable and happy on the flat, would it transfer over to over fences?  Things about Penny that factor in here; she will jump anything.  She likes to take longgggggggg ones.  She has a 15 ft stride NATURALLY and her gallop is about 19ft.  She definitely has Secretariats gallop.  She has a long back, and it's hard for her to get under herself.  Her jump is big, but it's just from her flinging herself over.  If she actually waits, listens and learns to use herself, she will add another foot to her scope.  

  The struggle we have over fences is her listening. She likes to see the jump and just gun for it.  I personally think this is a blast but you know, those TDs don't like it when you leave strides out in combinations. LOL.  Anything from short-normal stride length is tough for her.  My hope is all the flat work we have been doing will transfer to over fences.  My jumping coach also gave me a bit to try - a three ring french link.  I thought it would be way too hard at first since Penny is pretty sensitive in her mouth, but he assured me this is what I needed.  He explained that if I am doing everything right and Penny is still running through my hands - I need something stronger to back her off.

  To my surprise she has actually been enjoying this bit.  No fuss at all and goes around happily.  She fought it quite a bit at first but has since realized there is no point to fighting.  I can actually ride her more effectively now with this bit than with her previous bit that was a lot more gentle and basically she had 0 respect for. At home we have just been doing little gymnastics.  When Penny has time off from jumping, or showing, the first few outings are always a bit buzzy.  She gets very excited and strong and that's about all there is to it.  She figured out pretty quickly she wasn't going to be able to run through my hands and has been actually waiting to the fences and having to use her body. Woot woot.  She does not like this, and was finding it hard at first trying to swing her hind out.  She might not have been strong enough a few weeks ago since she just started jumping again.

  Things that I have to remember with her...when she actually sits back and waits - this means she is listening and I need to use my leg more to support her.  Previously I was dumb, and thought this meant she was backing off the fences and I would get paranoid she was hurt or something because it was so unlike her.  No longer dumb, I realize this means she is waiting and I can close my leg and allow her jump without holding onto her face.  She also does this when the fences get bigger.  She is way more rideable over the bigger fences because she actually has to look at them.

  I decided to take her out eventing before the season ends, and thus I need to get her out schooling.  I took her to Abydos Farms Saturday morning for a little school. Since she hasn't been out since Little Bromont in June I knew she would be a bit excited.  I also forgot my breastplate and running martingale, so that was special. I took my time warming up in their show jump ring until she relaxed completely.  Then we started jumping.  She trotted the x rail and cantered quietly away. Ok great.  We did it again, same thing.  We cantered the x rail, and she waited and patted the base and jumped nicely.  I cantered around and did a two stride.  A little strong but not bad.  I gave her a walk break then picked her up again, cantered some of the bigger showjumps and she was actually waiting and hitting the distance without charging. Success.  We still need to work more on keeping  the same pace but it has definitely improved.

 Happy with our warm up in the grass showjump ring, we headed to the XC.  I was totally nervous, I haven't been jumping Penny all summer.  I was worried about my riding. I was worried she would not listen at all.  Which, is silly when you look back at all we have done, but you know what those riding nerves are like.  I shouldn't have worried though, Penny walked into that field and knew it was business time.  I took her for a good canter and cantered a small cabin.  She kept her pace and jumped it beautifully.  We came back around and she took a bit of a flyer to it.  I halted and backed her up.  That was all it took to get her on the aids.  We cantered around the field, cabin, to coop, to ditch combo, to big Prelim coop, around to big Prelim hayfeeder and to my delight Penny kept her pace, stayed straight, and waited to all the fences and gave a nice big correct effort over.

just call me Micheal Jung with no martingale lmao

no scope no hope

  Cantering into those big fences I was just thinking in my head, "what the hell am I doing, these are HUGE"....and of course Penny is like, "finally something to JUMP" and carries my ass over.  God love her.  She felt amazing, on the aids and ready for more.  I ended there and dismounted to walk her back the trailer.  I know Penny will jump anything so schooling her is more about the ride than the fences themselves.  I gave her a really good bucket cool down and hand grazed her until she dried.  It was really hot that day so we both definitely needed it before loading up and heading home.

  If anything I was reminded how amazing Penny is.  Once the initial excitement and nerves wore off, we both were on top of our game.  She fits me like an old baseball mitt, one you never want to trade in or retire.  

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Happy Gotcha Day Mojo!

  I can hardly believe it, but today is the anniversary of the day I picked up my Mojo.  I blogged about  it three years ago.  I can't believe I have had this little sausage dog for THREE years.  Feels like just yesterday I picked him up for the first time.  Mojo is honestly the best dog ever.  He never does anything wrong. He pretty much trained himself, and like a true Heeler, he is ALWAYS by my side.  He brings me so much happiness it is hard to describe just what he brings to my life.

The cutest puppy!

  I have always been a crazy dog lover, but having Mojo in my life has brought owning a dog to a whole new level.  He means so much to me.  When things happened last year, (I haven't blogged about yet), I was in a really bad place mentally.  There were a lot of really dark days, where I didn't think I wanted to be alive anymore.  Not to be a total downer, but I was really on the verge of ending it all.  I thought about it many times.  I had pretty much given up on life for a while, it was one thing after another.  I couldn't stop crying for more than ten minutes at a time for months.  I lived in constant fear.  I didn't see a way out of the hole I was in.  I didn't really want to live on this planet with such horrible things happening to people every day.

the happiest dog 

and so silly

  But Mojo was there with me.  And every single morning, I woke up with him in my arms.  He followed me around as I limped around with my cast on.  He laid beside me with his head in my lap as I was stuck on a couch for months.  He begged me to play fetch and go swimming when I was finally able to walk around with an air boot, got me off my ass.  He was always there to be my rock and the shoulder to cry on when I needed it.  He could get a laugh out of me with his crazy tricks and antics when I didn't even want to smile.

Legit wore his cheeseburger costume ALL day at my horse show...who does that??

by my side at my show...with my walking cast on

he lives for mud

and smiles

and swimming

  I thought about life and what it meant to be here and be alive.  I thought about Mojo.  His face and his smile was what kept me going.  The thought of leaving Mojo behind was too much.  He did not deserve it.  I knew he loved me so much and that his entire world revolved around me. I could not bear the thought of leaving him, knowing how hard it would be for him.  I would close my eyes and see his face and it would make me smile.  Every day became a little bit easier because of Mojo. Each week I was a little bit stronger because of Mojo.

  Now, a year later, I am in a totally difference place.  I am happy, and so thankful to be here.  I owe Mojo my life, I truly believe he saved me from that deep, dark, fearful place, and brought me back where I belong.  My life revolves around keeping my dogs and horses happy and having fun.  Without Mojo, I don't know where I would be now.  To me, he is the greatest dog to ever live.  He gave me what I needed to live again.  He gave me my Mojo back, and for that, I am forever grateful.

 Happy Gotcha Day Mojo.  You are a very, very good dog.

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